Sigmund Freud. Persönliche Erinnerungen [Sigmund Freud: Personal memories]/Recollecting Freud

Article excerpt

Sigmund Freud. Persönliche Erinnerungen [Sigmund Freud: Personal memories] by Isidor Sadger Tübingen: Diskord. (Huppke A, Schröter M, editors. Quellen und Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Psychoanalyse [Sources of and treatises on the history of psychoanalysis], Vol. 4.) 2006. 160 p.

Recollecting Freud by Isidor Sadger (Dundes A, editor and translator, Jacobsen JM, translator) Madison, WI: U Wisconsin Press. 2005. 138 p.

Until the publication of this exemplary edition, edited by Huppke and Schröter, Sadger's Sigmund Freud: Personal memories had suffered a sad fate. At first, the book offended several people close to Freud, and they tried to prevent its publication. During his lifetime, it could not have been published because Sadger had intended it as a posthumous account, and, when Freud died, the political situation made its appearance impossible. A second blow was recently inflicted by an unbelievably bad English translation; the book fell victim to the amateurism which continues to plague the history of psychoanalysis. Since Sadger's memoirs were not published, the story of their attempted suppression is in some ways more interesting than the book itself. If it had appeared, as Sadger intended, shortly after Freud's death, it would have provided new information about Freud's early career, in particular the Wednesday Psychological Society and his lectures at the University of Vienna. But, in 2007, this book adds few details that have not surfaced already, although it remains an important document for the early years of psychoanalysis in Vienna. Today, Sadger's recollections may reveal more about this malcontent disciple than about the man whose personality he criticized and whose work he idolized.

At the beginning of his memoirs, Sadger presents himself as the oldest of Freud's pupils still practicing, and he may, in fact, have been the first psychoanalyst after Freud (May, 2003). From the winter semester of 1895-6, when he attended Freud's first lectures on the psychoneuroses at the University of Vienna, until 1933, when he resigned from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, Sadger maintained professional relations with Freud, although the two never appear to have been intimate. Probably around the time of the publication of a book on Freud by Sadger's nephew, Fritz Wittels (1924), Sadger himself began to write. By the end of 1927 or the beginning of 1928, he had completed the book; the two copies known to survive bear copyright dates of 1929 and 1930. But neither the German edition, printed and bound by Ernst Wengraf-Verlag, nor an English translation printed by Ferrar and Rinehart and now lost, was published.

It is not completely clear why the book never came out, although some of Freud's closest associates-his daughter Anna, Ernest Jones and Max Eitingon-did not want it published. This is apparent from the valuable appendix in which Huppke and Schröter reproduce some correspondence from 1932 and 1933, most of it discovered in the archives of the British Psychoanalytic Society (Thompson et al., 2005). Jones's role in the whole business was particularly unsavory. Leonard Woolf, of the Hogarth Press, who had been contacted by the American publisher, sent Jones copies of the book and translation and consulted him about publication in Britain. As Jones wrote to Anna Freud, 'The letter from the American publisher to Mr. Woolf was marked Confidential, but not his letter to me; so I felt justified in telling a few intimate friends' (p. 141). This may not be a surprising explanation from the man who coined rationalization, but, when Jones complained to Paul Federn that his own confidential communication had been betrayed to Sadger, one can hardly feel sorry for him.1 Sadger declined to submit his book to a 'disguised tribunal' (p. 143) and resigned from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society on 10 November 1933 after 27 years of membership.

The memoirs are written as if Freud has already died, so, after the dispute with the Viennese, Sadger could not have published them without revision. …